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Receiving Social Security Benefits Based on a Mental Impairment

When determining whether or not a case will be a good social security disability claim based on a mental impairment case, it is important to keep several requirements outlined in the Social Security Listing of Impairments in mind. The following outline describes the basic components of a viable psych case, which are taken directly from the Listing of Impairments. For more information on this topic you can visit the SSA’s website at www.ssa.gov/bluebook/AdultListings.htm. Remember that for a claimant to be awarded benefits based on a mental disorder, the disorder must be considered to be “severe” by the SSA. By “severe,” they mean that the functional limitations caused by the disability, must show marked impairment in several areas of functioning. These areas of functioning are listed below. ? Activities of Daily Living • Cleaning, shopping, cooking, taking public transportation, paying bills, maintaining a residence, caring appropriately for one’s grooming and hygiene, using telephones and directories, using a post office, etc. ? Social Functioning • Capacity to act independently, appropriately, effectively, and on a sustained basis with other individuals • Ability to get along with others • Examples of impaired social functioning: Altercations, evictions, firings, fear of strangers, avoidance of interpersonal relationships, isolation, cooperative behaviors, consideration for others, awareness of others’ feelings, social maturity. ? Concentration, persistence, or pace • Ability to sustain focused attention and concentration sufficiently long enough to permit timely and appropriate completion of tasks commonly found in work settings ? Repeated Episodes of decompensation • Exacerbations or temporary increases in signs or symptoms accompanied by loss of adaptive functioning • Episodes can be seen in records that show: • Increases in medication • Change of medication • Need for more structured psychological support system • Hospitalizations, placement in halfway house • When they say “repeated episodes,” they mean one of two things: • 3 episodes in one year • Average of once every 4 months, each lasting at least two weeks So in general, remember that it is not the actual diagnosis that will get a claimant awarded, but the functional impairments caused by the diagnosed mental impairment. For example, Social Security will not award a claim simply because the claimant has been diagnosed with bipolar syndrome. However, a claimant with Bipolar Syndrome who has marked deficits in social functioning, concentration, persistence or pace, and has had repeated episodes of decompensation, may be awarded. If you would like more information on applying for Social Security Disablity (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), click here for a free consultation.